What is Essiac "Gold"?

In the book ESSIAC--THE SECRETS OF RENE CAISSE'S HERBAL PHARMACY Sheila Snow and Mali Klein revealed that Rene Caisse may have used the herb Goldthread to treat patients in her Cancer Clinic.  Rene Caisse obtained Goldthread from a man who drove his brother weekly to the Cancer Clinic.  According to Mali Klein, "It is possible that Gold thread has played a significant part, both in the original formula and as an additional therapy in Rene Caisse's Essiac programme."  [THE ESSIAC BOOK, p. 38]

Goldthread is not easy to find in the woods and North American herb companies do not normally sell this herb.  The yellow root is very thin so one must pick a lot of Goldthread plants to obtain an ounce of the herb, which contains a yellow  substance called "berberine".  Herbalists can substitute Goldthread with other berberine-containing herbs such as Goldenseal, Barberry or Oregon Grape root.  Wild Oregon Grape root is inexpensive and is plentiful in the Northwest; it is not in any danger of being wildcrafted out of existence.  People often use the holly-like Oregon Grape as an ornamental in their yards and therefore it is available at many nurseries. 

Wild Goldenseal has been picked out of existence in the eastern US.  In like manner wild Ginseng was picked out of existence in the eastern US because at one time it was actually more valuable than gold.  Today Ginseng and Goldenseal are grown organically. 

Goldthread grows slowly.  Theoretically, the fate of wild Goldthread could go the way of Goldenseal and Ginseng if people pick it too much in the wild.   Therefore, one should pick it sparingly.  One can also grow Goldthread organically or simply transplant some live plants and establish it in new areas to insure that it can continue to thrive in the wild.  Another solution is to substitute Oregon Grape root for Goldthread.

Oregon Grape root is a much better substitute for Goldthread even though Goldthread has a higher berberine content by weight.  Oregon Grape has much bigger roots while Goldthread roots are very fine threads.  One can pick a pound of Oregon Grape roots in a few minutes while it could take days to pick a pound of Goldthread roots.  Also, Oregon Grape root is a better choice because it does not cause heart palpitations or over-stimulate the nervous system like Goldenseal can do in larger-than-recommended dosages. 

When one substitutes Oregon Grape root for Goldthread, one should add about 1/8 more Oregon Grape root (by weight) because Oregon Grape root has a slightly lower concentration of berberine than Goldthread.  When harvesting Goldthread or Oregon Grape root, simply pull the roots up without digging.  Digging can do great harm to the colony from which you harvest the root.  [HEALING PLANTS OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS by Darcy Williamson, p. 99]

Mali Klein apparently believes that Goldthread was one of the eight herbs in the original "old medicine man's" tea.  However, the evidence is not conclusive and the eighth herb may very well have been bloodroot or other herb indigenous to eastern Canada.  Due to Rene Caisse's secrecy about the herbs we may never know what the eighth herb was in the old medicine man's formula.

Click here for more information about Goldthread.

"We all have the right to benefit from Essiac because no one can stop us making it, no one can stop us taking it and no one can stop us deciding how and when we're going to do it."  [THE ESSIAC BOOK by Mali Klein, 2006] 

The Truth about Essiac: 
Rene Caisse and her Herbal Cancer Treatment, ESSIAC

* ESSIAC INFO *     * ESSIAC FAQ *

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